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BLM Firefighter Killed in Burnover on Devils Den Fire

by Chris Sorensen |

BLM Employee Spencer Stanley Koyle, 33, died Thursday afternoon while fighting the Devil's Den Fire burning about three miles east of Oak City Utah. Apparently there was a burnover and shelters were deployed.

Millard County sheriff's investigators say shifting winds caused a wildfire to change directions and overtake a firefighter, killing him.

Spencer Stanley Koyle, 33, died Thursday afternoon while fighting the Devil's Den Fire burning about three miles east of Oak City.

"He fought fires for several years, and he was very experienced," Koyle's brother-in-law, Rick Whiting, told the Deseret Morning News on Friday. "That's why it's a shock and surprise to us all. It gives you an idea of how dangerous the fires are."

Koyle leaves behind a wife, Nichole, and three children, ages 7, 4 and 18 months. He was employed as a fire operation supervisor at the Bureau of Land Management's Fillmore office.

Millard County sheriff's deputies said Koyle and about 30 other firefighters were working the Devil's Den Fire in Oak Creek Canyon when the wind shifted and changed the direction and intensity of the fire.

Lookouts for the firefighting team ordered everyone to evacuate.

"He covered quite a bit of ground, but he just couldn't outrun the fire," Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker said Friday.

Reconstructing the death, the sheriff said it appears the fire had Koyle surrounded. He deployed a fire shelter, which can protect firefighters should they become trapped.

"I don't think it provided enough protection in this incident. He deployed it, and (the fire) came right over the top of him," Dekker said.

"It was just a tremendous fire for a few minutes. Everybody just tried to evacuate, and when there was a head count taken, they knew they were one firefighter missing."